V-Mart relegated to pinch-hitting duties in Pittsburgh

Catching not an option following knee surgery

V-Mart relegated to pinch-hitting duties in Pittsburgh

CLEVELAND -- Remember when Victor Martinez was being discussed as a catching option during Interleague games this season? That was in January, and after Martinez's knee surgery in February, that wasn't happening.

In fact, Martinez won't be playing any position when the Tigers visit Pittsburgh next week. He'll be out of the starting lineup, breaking up Detroit's vaunted middle of the order for the three-game set against the Pirates.

"He won't play the field in Pittsburgh," Ausmus said. "He will be a pinch-hitter. He'll be probably the best pinch-hitter in the game."

Martinez said more than once during Spring Training he was open to playing first base, and was hoping to be ready to do so when the season started. But the Tigers have a first baseman in Miguel Cabrera, and unlike past seasons, he isn't moving to third anytime soon after offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.

Martinez is 12-for-40 as a pinch-hitter, with a home run, nine RBIs and a 10-to-2 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Most of those at-bats, however, came early in his career with Cleveland. He's 1-for-8 as a pinch-hitter as a Tiger, including 0-for-1 last season.

The Tigers and Martinez endured a scary moment in the seventh inning of Saturday's 9-6 victory over the Indians, when Martinez appeared to injure his left knee during an at-bat. But Martinez is expected to be OK.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.